Your Knowledge: Power or Empowering?

This is a topic that intrigues me as so relevant on so many different levels and applied to so many different situations.  Human nature often lends itself to a temporary positive feeling when we feel smarter than the next guy.  However, experience and evidence suggests that sharing and collaboration are often at the heart of major breakthroughs to solve really hard problems, to build a truly lasting successful company, or to take a daring idea and turn it into a sustained reality.  Sharing of knowledge supports the 1+1+1= 5 math that I’ve learned to appreciate in my own career.

I just listened to some of the recently posted TEDMED 2012 Talks and gleaned inspiration on several fronts. I was struck by the consistency by which these brilliant thinkers were also humble and quick to tout the benefits of collaboration and sharing knowledge in pursuit of new solutions – solutions focused on creating a world where “health” verses “health care” is the end game.

It is not entirely surprising that sometimes those with the most potential who are poised at the transition to leadership often make a crucial mistake of using their tenure and its accrued knowledge as “power”. They are quick to say, “Give it to me (my team), we’ll handle it,” and much less likely to collaborate and share what they know. These individuals miss the chance to transition to leadership in a way that ultimately expands the capacity and resiliency of their organization to meet the demands of dynamic markets today.  Blind spots occur in the strategic thinking of the senior team when knowledge is hoarded in cliques and new ideas and perspectives are not seen as relevant.

Knowledge when shared, however, is empowering, energizing, and even inspirational for the talent across your organization.   As a leader, have you empowered someone today by sharing your knowledge?  Did you reverse a blind spot that may have developed for you by sharing and listening to a new perspective?

One Comment on “Your Knowledge: Power or Empowering?

  1. Great post, Kathryn. We were discussing a similar idea today as I am finally putting together a lab. The first person I hired has been making sure we think about collaboration and shared knowledge as we interview for two more positions. She helped me see that this sharing quality is more important than technical skills. We can teach skills, but the sharing personality is very rare in academia. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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